Would-be travelers with a little free time in December but no idea where to spend it need look no further. Whether you’re seeking a sun-drenched beach or a winter wonderland, a place to make memories with the kids or spoil a special someone, dive in to discover the best destinations for December vacations in the USA.
Best cities to visit in December in the USA
There’s really nothing quite like the holidays in the Big Apple, an outdoor ice rink at Rockefeller Center, elaborate holiday window displays along Fifth Avenue, and horse-drawn carriage rides around Central Park all adding to the magic of Christmas in New York City. The holiday spirit is also palpable some 2,000 miles to the west in Santa Fe, where thousands of fairy lights twinkle above Santa Fe Plaza, and the Canyon Road Farolito Walk and Winter Indian Market are among the New Mexico capital’s best-loved holiday traditions.
Best winter vacations for couples
Founded in the late 17th century, Charleston boasts bundles of old-time charm. Couples can stroll the cobblestoned streets of the French Quarter, take in the harbor views from Waterfront Park, and enjoy a romantic meal at one of the upscale restaurants in the Battery District. Santa Barbara is another good place to indulge, food tours around the historic downtown the perfect way to combine sightseeing with a little wining and dining. Time your visit with the annual Parade of Lights to see dozens of twinkling boats brighten up the California coast.
Warm places to visit in December in the USA
December temperatures rarely dip below 60 in Santa Monica, making it a serious contender for a warm winter vacation in the USA. Sunny days are not the only thing you’ll enjoy, of course – ice skating without the cold just a few blocks from the Pacific is one of the many activities served up at the end of Route 66. You’ll find the same great shorts and t-shirt weather over in San Antonio, not to mention a light-strewn River Walk, holiday boat caroling, and countless opportunities to tuck into freshly steamed tamales.
Best winter vacations for families
There’s no arguing with the draw of Orlando vacation rentals for families, the holidays only serving to ramp up the excitement in the Sunshine State’s playground. There’s a flurry of fun to be had at all the parks, though Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom is a favorite. An equally charming time awaits in Tennessee where Gatlinburg cabin rentals sit on the doorstep of countless holiday delights. There’s the twinkling Trolley Ride of Lights, along with a whimsical Christmas parade and plenty of alpine appeal on the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg.
Cold places to visit in December in the USA
Washington, DC transforms into a winter wonderland in December, the onset of the holidays in the nation’s capital marked by both the arrival of an ice rink by the Potomac River and the huge National Christmas Tree. Holiday-themed theater shows and winter markets brimming with festive treats add to the magic. Over on the East Coast, Maine casts its own spell, not least in Portland where a fresh layer of powder has inevitably transformed this traditional New England summer retreat into the perfect place to sled, skate, and ski.
Best places for weekend breaks in December
Outdoor adventure comes easy in Yellowstone National Park in December, its snowy landscapes offering a postcard-perfect backdrop for sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, and about every style of winter sport in between. Weekend wildlife watchers are rewarded with sightings of wolves at both dawn and dusk. In the Florida Keys, sightseeing is more about the sunsets, not least in Key West’s Mallory Square where its arrival is marked each night by live music, dancing, and fire juggling.
Beautiful places to visit in December in the USA
Throughout the whole month of December, Albuquerque’s ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden puts on New Mexico’s largest walk-through holiday attraction. Thousands of twinkly lights make it one of the world’s most sparkling light shows and one of the most beautiful places to visit in winter in the USA. Lake Tahoe depends on its natural beauty to attract a crowd, with both sightseeing cruises and scenic drives offering a memorable way to experience the star turn on the California-Nevada state line. Skiing, snowboarding, and a not-to-be-missed après-ski scene add to the fun.